I know I’ve blogged about music before, but I don’t know that I’ve adequately conveyed how important music is to me. I don’t know if I can adequately convey how important it is to me.
I’ve heard two people in my life claim to not like music. Any music. They both confused me and made me feel sad for them. How can you not like any music? It’s like they were already dead.
When I was very young, the music that I loved could only be the music that the adults gave me access to. Which means I listened to Irish folk music, The Beatles, and Iron Butterfly.
Today? Irish folk music mostly pisses me off, but if it’s The Clancy Brothers, then I’m going to listen and I’ll probably know every word. For instance, part of their children’s medley goes through my head at least once a week. I can thank my dad for playing The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at Carnegie Hall a million times. The rest of my music came from my mom’s two youngest sisters. They were only 4 and 6 years older than me. That’s where I heard The Beatles, The Monkees, and the Stones. I learned that Bobby Sherman was the devil and that I was to hate him forever.
I still love the Beatles. I love nearly everything about the Beatles, other than Run For Your Life. I fucking hate that song. Iron Butterfly? Yeah, I can do without them.
Once I started school and was old enough to spend time at other people’s houses without my parents (which honestly, was by age 6. I pretty much grew up a feral child on the street), I started hearing other types of music and I remember that I felt untethered for a couple years. There were so many sounds. So many options. I listened to Pink Floyd, Dr. Hook, and Elton John. I listened to Linda Ronstadt, Led Zeppelin, and Alice Cooper. I listened to anything I could as often as I could.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, then you know I have a narcissistic father. By the time I was old enough to form my own opinions on music, he had already been punishing me for years for having my own opinions on anything else. I remember once asking him if I could play the jukebox and he gave me a nickel and told me I could play one song. I picked Long Cool Woman by The Hollies. I remember the horrified look on my father’s face. That was song you picked? I understood the look and I understood what he was saying. I was wrong to like that song. It was inappropriate and probably bad.
I still loved The Hollies.
By the time I started Junior high, music no longer attracted and frightened me. It only attracted me. I started the beginning of the 7th grade writing a fan letter to the Jackson Five and I ended the 7th grade listening Aerosmith and David Bowie.
If you grew up in the seventies around Cincinnati, OH, then you probably listened to Q102. You probably remember the night time disk jockey, Mark Sebastian. Every night, Q102 played the top 10. At the time, my family lived with another family that my parents met through their prayer meetings. A single mother and her two children. My two sisters and her younger daughter had to use the basement as their bedroom. Her older daughter and I shared a bedroom. It was a strange time.
I don’t remember what my bedtime was, but I do remember it was before the top ten countdown ended every night. I couldn’t miss the countdown. I would listen to the whole thing with the volume turned way down and my head pressed against the mesh of a big box speaker. Every single night, for months, the number one song was Stairway To Heaven. And every night, at the end of the song just after Robert Plant sings “and she’s buying a stairway to” and before he sings “heaven”, Mark Sebastian would whisper “bite me”. Every night.
I listened to top 40 until high school, then I switched to the Album oriented rock station, WEBN. My exposure wasn’t limited like it was when I was 5 years old, but it was still pretty fucking limited.
Bruce Springsteen was my god during high school. Although, I remember the first time I heard Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran I felt the winds of change drift through my head.
After high school, I got a little bit of that fear and awe of music when I discovered MTV. We can rag on it all we want, but I loved MTV. I watched MTV every chance I got. I learned about U2 and INXS and The Cure. I saw The Clash and Billy Idol and learned what my favorite music is. When I moved out on my own and got married the first time, if the tv was on, then it was on MTV.
I gave up on MTV years before The Real World started up. VH1 offered a little nostalgia for me, but when MTV died, my fascination with watching and listening to performers died with it.
I really thought that I had already fallen in love for the last time. Music would always be important to me, but I would never feel that swimmy, ‘holy shit the world is opening up’ feeling that you get when you find out music is so much bigger than you thought it was.
Then, I met Randy and he gave me that all over again. I’ve learned so much more and learned so much about myself since we’ve been together. One of those things was Randy pulling open new curtains and showing me that I was still missing out. He gave me Elvis Costello, The Cramps, Howlin’ Wolf, and The Ramones. He gave me The Handsome Family, The Queers, the Pixies, and John Hiatt. There is so much more than this, but I’d end up writing a book and you’d end up getting bored.
I think now, maybe, that it could happen again. I don’t think I’ve fallen in love for the last time anymore, but you know how it is with finding love, you never know when it will actually hit.
That little Clancy Brothers bit that still goes through my head in the regular rotation goes like this:
Up the long ladder and down the short rope
To hell with king Billy and God bless the Pope
If that doesn’t do, we’ll tear him in two
And send him to hell with his red, white and blue